In February of 1918, Jules André Smith was commissioned as captain in Company B of the 40th Corps of Engineers of the U.S. Army, and was the first of eight artists to be sent to France to record the activities of the American Expeditionary Forces. The artists were stationed north of the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters in Chaumont, but given clearance to travel freely, and were able to work among the soldiers embedded along the front lines, as well as those toiling in support roles.
Smith’s work captured what he referred to as “War, the business man, instead of War, the warrior,” providing a panoramic view of the great movements of men and machinery that acted as the backdrop to the war. Smith remained in France until March of 1919, and after his discharge published In France with the American Expeditionary Forces, a collection of his illustrations and observations of the war.
The War Letters of J. André Smith presents excerpts of letters written to his mother during his time overseas, along with images of the work he created in his role as an official war artist. The letters are housed in the archives of the Art & History Museums – Maitland. The video is narrated by Central Florida composer Charlie Griffin, and was produced as one of our past Historical Museum exhibitions, J. André Smith and the Art of Camouflage.